Immersing herself in the “oven of Spain,” Isabelle Geraghty is learning embrace the unplanned life of the Spanish city of Seville.
After one of the most jam-packed summers of my life, I never really had a chance to think about the reality of the fact that I was about to uproot my life and move to Seville for a year. Knowing absolutely no one over there, I was excited and nervous not only to properly experience the Spanish lifestyle, but to experience any lifestyle other than my South Dublin bubble.
Seville, also known as the ‘oven of Spain,’ did not disappoint, and I arrived to temperatures of 38 degrees. Despite being told it will cool down for winter, October is about to end and it reached 30 degrees today at 6pm. However, I am finding it difficult to complain to my friends at home about this and be taken seriously.
“Seville, also known as the ‘oven of Spain’, did not disappoint, and I arrived to temperatures of 38 degrees.”
Just last week, Lonely Planet voted Seville the top city to visit in 2018. They began their article with “Some cities blast you away, others slowly win you over. Seville disarms and seduces you,” and I cannot agree with them more. The seduction of this city comes in many shapes and forms, and what really made me fall in love was the beauty of every street. The entire city is made up of winding medieval streets and cobbled pathways. Unfortunately, this does lead to daily awkward encounters with cars on streets that were not made to fit both drivers and pedestrians. Nevertheless, every street has a story to tell and the colours, intimacy, and the history that surround me had me hooked from day one.
It was about a week in, after becoming completely infatuated with my new surroundings, that I began to see a more realistic portrayal of Spanish life. By far the biggest shock to my system, as a girl who loves schedules and planners, was realising that Spain does not. On one of my first days of class, I arrived promptly at eleven o’clock to the assigned room and found that myself and another Erasmus student were the only ones waiting outside the classroom. We were joined by our fellow classmates and teacher about twenty minutes later. I have since learned that ‘Spanish time’ is completely different to the rest of the world, and as long as you’re not more than ten minutes late, you’re early. ‘Spanish time’ doesn’t just apply to punctuality, but also to your entire daily schedule. I am still adjusting to the calm streets when I come home at four o’clock because the entire world is sleeping, the getting ready to go out for dinner at nine or ten at night and the pre-drinks that don’t start until midnight because it’s free in until three.
“On one of my first days of class, I arrived promptly at eleven o’clock to the assigned room and found that myself and another Erasmus student were the only ones waiting outside the classroom.”
In Dublin, I’m used to barely having a free hour, filling up my time with work, assignments, and societies. I think that was one of the hardest things to adjust to here. The first few weeks for me in Seville were a constant series of free hours that I anxiously tried to fill. One thing I have realised in my short time living in Spain so far is to appreciate having that free time, and learn to fill it with little things like last minute tapas with friends, trips to galleries, and things I never have time for at home, like painting and reading. The Spanish take life a lot less seriously than we do at home, and while I love my hectic schedule, I think a lot can be learned from their lifestyle about the importance of taking time for yourself and learning to love your own company.
Before you go away on Erasmus, everyone tells you how jealous they are. They tell you you’re about to have the best year of your life. No one really tells you about how lonely it can be, or how, as extroverted as you might be at home, making friends in a different language is a completely different experience. There are days where you will be scrolling through snapchat stories of your friends at home feeling lost and alone, thinking everyone at home is having the best time in the world, when you have been sitting in your room for four hours drinking the Barry’s Tea your mum brought over and refreshing your facebook feed. This is okay. It is important not to over romanticise your expectations of any new experience, and if all your days aren’t perfect at home, they’re certainly not all going to be perfect in a new city surrounded by people who were strangers a few weeks ago, without the comforts of home.
However, the experience of completely immersing yourself in another culture and the opportunities that arise with it, from learning to distinguish between reggaeton songs (a huge feat), to making friends from around the world and drinking €2 glasses of wine with them, is unique and special. I feel lucky to be here and am proud of myself for embarking on this journey. Having been here less than two months, everything is still relatively new and exciting. As the novelty wears off, I can see myself slowly settling into this beautiful city, comfortably, while accepting that every day doesn’t have to have a busy schedule to be well spent.